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How good are Tokai guitars?
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Peter Mac
Guitar God


Joined: 16 Dec 2001
Posts: 1060
Location: Sydney, Australia

PostPosted: Sat Dec 22, 2001 2:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I started working on guitars in 1978 rebuilding and setting up professionals guitars for a Company. I worked on, disassembled and reassembled and customised Fenders and Gibsons from 1950 up.
In 1984 I was offered the position of Guitar Technician for Tokai Music Aust. and what I saw floored me.
Firstly, let me state that Tokais are not copies, they are REPLICAS. This is why there is no coherant serial numbering - because they are replicating the various year Fenders
so by knowing your Fenders, you can find what year your Tokai is replicating. As far as I can ascertain, ALL Tokais were made in Japan until at least 1990, this includes the AST, ATE and ALS series.
The best way to date your guitar is by the headstock shape and logo. I am working with Ned to find if the neck stamp gives this away.
Model by model , there were many variations to the Tokai range from 1980 to 1990, including some original designs and experimenting with different body materials. I have owned and played the M2002 Graphite strat and it was a f&(%^n' awesome guitar - Joe Walsh thought so too.
Ever wondered why dot-neck ES-335's were so popular? They were made with a solid beam of maple from neck heel to strap button. This was stopped in 1962 when the block inlays were introduced and affected the tone and sound of the guitar. All of the Tokai ES-335 were true to the dot-neck construction by putting the solid beam in the body. Gibson re-started doing it in 1986. Makes ya wonder, don't it!
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loverockerUK
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 23, 2001 4:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

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Last edited by loverockerUK on Sat Mar 13, 2004 6:03 am; edited 1 time in total
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Peter Mac
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Joined: 16 Dec 2001
Posts: 1060
Location: Sydney, Australia

PostPosted: Tue Dec 25, 2001 8:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the info, Barry.

I thought the run was longer than '72 - 75 as I have worked on earlier models that weren't solid beamed but I will stand corrected.
Have you tried the TES-100 or TES-120? A comparison would be nice

Peter
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loverockerUK
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 27, 2001 5:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

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Beatlefreek
Plucker


Joined: 27 Oct 2001
Posts: 10
Location: Canada

PostPosted: Tue Jan 01, 2002 4:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Peter Mac:

I asked this question on another thread but got very little reply, maybe you can help.

What are the differences between a Korean-made Tokai strat and a Japanese-made Tokai strat?

If you can, be specific? However, if I have one over-riding question, it would be about the general relative quality between the MIK vs. MIJ Tokai strats. It's the same sort of question asked about the MIM vs. MIA Fender strats.

Thanks.
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Peter Mac
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Joined: 16 Dec 2001
Posts: 1060
Location: Sydney, Australia

PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2002 9:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dear Beatlefreek,
to be honest, I have not inspected any of the Korean strats - my experience is with the Jap models from 1980-1990.
However the Fender MIM to MIA theory does hold water, Tokai MIJ's would be of a better build quality than MIK.

If you look at the differences in the 80's MIJ Strats, even here the quality varied. The TST40 range had a poplar body, TST50 & 60's had alder and TST80 & 100's had alder or ash. The electrics were different for all these models as were neck construction and profile.

I suppose the question to ask yourself is if you are buying a product, would you buy one made in country of origin or one made off-shore. I own a pre-lawsuit TST80 with the 54 neck and it is better than any Fender I have owned previously, but itis always a personal choice. try both styles and then make a decision.
regards
Peter
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Jason13
Plucker


Joined: 13 Sep 2001
Posts: 8

PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2002 11:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

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javelin70
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Joined: 09 Sep 2001
Posts: 820
Location: Sweden

PostPosted: Thu Jan 10, 2002 8:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would like to correct Peter Mac, the TST40's had alder bodies as did the AST40's. I own an AST40 and it's definitely alder and according to Tokai's catalogs from the 80's they never used poplar for any strat or tele replicas (the only difference between AST40 and TST40 is the headstock). According to the catalog's all the replicas had alder bodies (including the TST80) but models like the TST55H which is a custom strat could have either alder or ash bodies. The TST55H I once owned also had an alder body. My AST40 is a late 80's model. I also own a TTE50 with an alder body.
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nakamichi
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Joined: 10 Sep 2001
Posts: 56

PostPosted: Thu Jan 10, 2002 3:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Poplar is a wonderful tone-wood for strats, but it's difficult to finish and its light weight can make it vulnerable to acoustic-type feedback. Some people like that, though!

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Peter Mac
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Joined: 16 Dec 2001
Posts: 1060
Location: Sydney, Australia

PostPosted: Fri Jan 11, 2002 11:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey javelin70,

your comments show the variences in the Tokai guitars - I was speaking more on the AUSTRALIAN models.
The TST-40 were first imported here in 1988 and had poplar or basswood bodies depending on the finish. From your comments it seems that the European models still had alder.I have a 1989 catalog:Vol. 15 (not posted)that says the Export model TST-40 has a basswood body. as does the TE-40. It also shows a variety of Domestic models with basswood bodies too, obviously a step to control pricing.
From what i can find here, Australia never received any of the AST series guitars.

regards
Peter

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javelin70
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Joined: 09 Sep 2001
Posts: 820
Location: Sweden

PostPosted: Sat Jan 12, 2002 9:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hmm,

It's strange that Tokai seems to have used only alder for strat/tele replicas shipped to Europe/USA but not Australia. The catalogs I've checked are from '84 to '89 both american and european. My AST40 comes from Denmark, the "A" models were never available in Sweden where I live to my knowledge. Tokai's own models like the super edition JSX70 I own seems to have been the same both in Europe and USA. I have nothing against either basswood or poplar, I've had both basswood and poplar guitars and they sounded really good. At present the only guitar I own made of basswood is a japanese 90's Squier strat (it's heavier than any other basswood guitar I've played). I really like the tone this guitar produces, it's quite different from my alder Tokai strat, but both are excellent.

Michael
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Peter Mac
Guitar God


Joined: 16 Dec 2001
Posts: 1060
Location: Sydney, Australia

PostPosted: Mon Jan 14, 2002 7:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Michael,

We did not get the JSX70 here - even though we ordered them. We were sent the JSR403 as a replacement, which looked very similar but with a basswood body and chunkier "Jackson" style neck and headstock.
It appears Australia was treated to the Japan/Asia market guitars rather than the Europe/USA
regards
Peter
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pinch
Plucker


Joined: 14 Jan 2002
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Tue Jan 15, 2002 1:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I remember when fender took tokai to court. Tokai carried on production but changed thier logo on the springy sound strat to a block logo with 'made in japan by rock and roll fanatics' in the 'with synchronised tremolo' position under the logo. Thus deleting the word strat that they were using. These are the ones that came out during and after the 'lawsuit' and are the same (bar logo etc)as the first ones.I have a lake placid blue one with matching headstock that spanks any USA standard I have played.
On 2001-12-22 03:08, Peter Mac wrote:
I started working on guitars in 1978 rebuilding and setting up professionals guitars for a Company. I worked on, disassembled and reassembled and customised Fenders and Gibsons from 1950 up.
In 1984 I was offered the position of Guitar Technician for Tokai Music Aust. and what I saw floored me.
Firstly, let me state that Tokais are not copies, they are REPLICAS. This is why there is no coherant serial numbering - because they are replicating the various year Fenders
so by knowing your Fenders, you can find what year your Tokai is replicating. As far as I can ascertain, ALL Tokais were made in Japan until at least 1990, this includes the AST, ATE and ALS series.
The best way to date your guitar is by the headstock shape and logo. I am working with Ned to find if the neck stamp gives this away.
Model by model , there were many variations to the Tokai range from 1980 to 1990, including some original designs and experimenting with different body materials. I have owned and played the M2002 Graphite strat and it was a f&(%^n' awesome guitar - Joe Walsh thought so too.
Ever wondered why dot-neck ES-335's were so popular? They were made with a solid beam of maple from neck heel to strap button. This was stopped in 1962 when the block inlays were introduced and affected the tone and sound of the guitar. All of the Tokai ES-335 were true to the dot-neck construction by putting the solid beam in the body. Gibson re-started doing it in 1986. Makes ya wonder, don't it!
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Peter Mac
Guitar God


Joined: 16 Dec 2001
Posts: 1060
Location: Sydney, Australia

PostPosted: Wed Jan 16, 2002 5:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

HI pinch
I am wondering which logo your LPB strat has.
A springy sound or goldstar? The colored headstocks are very rare as Tokai only used them on their TST60 and TST80 models and only for a few years. This is a great score and you should post some pics.
regards
Peter


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loverockerUK
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 17, 2002 4:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

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Last edited by loverockerUK on Sat Mar 13, 2004 6:05 am; edited 1 time in total
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